Thursday, June 26, 2014

Altra Provisioness Shoe Review

As a runner, if you're anything like me, you like testing out the latest gear and feeling 'in the know' about what's happening in the industry. After changing my stride several years back from a serious heel striker to a mid foot striker, I have gradually moved away from shoes that were super rigid with a ton of support. 

For years, I have run in the Brooks Adrenalines, which have done me well. But I started branching out a bit buying Nikes that had less stability and I really liked how they felt on runs.

And after Altras hit the market, I was definitely curious about how a zero drop heel would feel. Zero drop essentially means that the ball of your foot and your heel are on the same plane. Well, it turns out, if you're running on the mid to forefoot, it doesn't feel all that different!

I ordered the Provisioness 1.5 because it's a light stability shoe with a 'stability wedge' that can provide a little extra arch support for those who need it. I prefer the shoe without the wedge, personally. 

What I really like about the fit of the shoe is that the toe box is W I D E so your toes have some room to breathe, whereas other shoes often have my feet cramped. I also like how comfortable the footbed is. The downfall for me, is that near the ankle it feels a bit looser than I'd like, so I find myself lacing them pretty tight. 

The shape is a little different, but you get used to that in no time. Plus, I love this color combo. 

I've probably taken these out on about 10 runs ranging from 1 to 8 miles and haven't had any cramping in the calves. I did have that little hip issue, but I have no idea if it had anything relation to the shoes.

Of course, I would definitely recommend easing into a shoe like this if you haven't been transitioning to low or no drop shoes. 

Another feature I really like about these shoes is the reflective pull loops, which makes it much easier to get the shoe on! There is a loop on the top of the tongue and the back of the heel. Every shoe should have these. 

Overall, I would give the Provisioness a 7.5 out of 10. I'm still debating if I would go down a half size next time (I ordered my regular running shoe size). 

Want to see more? Check out Altra on Instagram

By the time you're reading this, we are likely en route to London, so I'll talk to you from the other side of the pond!

Have you tried any new running shoes or products you're loving lately? 

Disclosure: All thoughts and opinions are my own. I received a discount on the Altra shoes in return for a review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hotels vs. Hostels

This past weekend, I was smart not to plan much of anything. Friday night we had a fun going away party to attend. The music and the people were just too good, so we kept dancing around to the tunes in the back yard until nearly midnight. Pretty perfect way to kick off summer (minus the saying goodbye thing).

The rest of the weekend was full of travel prep - errands to Target, REI, Verizon, etc. Per the usual, we walked into Target for a whopping three things and came out with about 20 travel "necessities" and forgot to grab ear plugs! As much as I hate buying overpriced travel size items, I know it's worth it when you have to lug your stuff with you for three weeks straight.

We even spent a few hours reading travel books because you know, there's nothing like last minute planning!

And in reality, they do have some pretty good tips about specific cities and travel in general.

Hostels vs. Hotels
We now have London, Barcelona, Rome and Gerardmer (northeastern France) accommodations booked! They won't be fancy, but they should suit our needs and be fairly close to the main attractions. It's funny how 6 years can change your perspective a bit. I keep saying that we'll stay at hostels, but so far, we only have one night booked in a hostel.

Paying $20-30 more per night just seems worth it over having to deal with a poor night's sleep or partying 20 year-olds.

That being said, I still have a hard time wanting to splurge on any of our places because we're going to be gone for three weeks! But then I think about a peaceful night's rest, our own bathrooms, safety, etc. and the money seems completely worth it.

So far, we will be staying in a hostel, University dorms, a hotel and a room in a home via airbnb to see the Tour de France. The variety should keep things interesting, that's for sure.

Last Week's Workouts

Monday - Rest (but ran around all day at work as it was graduation day)

Tuesday - power yoga

Wednesday - a.m. Summer Shape Up workout 1 + 1.5 mile easy jog, p.m. bike ride with Lindsey! Beautiful night. Legs were definitely sluggish the last few miles.

Thursday - 45 min a.m. Yogaglo flow with Kathryn Budig, p.m. miles around Hayward Field. The right hip was still feeling pretty cranky, so I did the first 10 min of tempo with the speed group, then stretched and jogged easy for another 25 or so. 

Friday - 35 min on the bike trainer + 35 min strength + ab session

Saturday - 5 mile Ridgeline Trail run with friends + summer solstice yoga flow with Lindsey. Starting my morning with a sunrise trail run and then an energizing, mindful yoga practice felt like it was straight out of my perfect little story book. Happy heart, body and mind. 

Sunday - LONG run. Powered through 2.5 hours of running (~16 miles) along Pre's trail, out to Doris Ranch, along a new bike path and through a few new to me streets and hills.

Overall, the theme of the week was to try and figure out how the heck to get rid of my cranky hip. Thankfully, Friday's spinning rid the hip of most of its attitude and she was ready to go come Saturday morning. As much as I might have liked to get in another 5+ miles this week, I'm glad I played it safe.

The trip is now so close I can almost touch it. Two days of work and then we're out of here! I better start packing...

Are you a hostel, hotel or airbnb traveler? Do you have any good book recommendations for the long flight? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just for Fun

Tonight after dinner and a fun {but tiring!} bike ride with Lindsey, I was reading blogs and came across a few topics I thought would be fun to share and get your responses on as well.

First off, Monica of Run Eat Repeat does these fun 'Ask a Monican' Vlogs from time to time. Today, Monica talked about what her morning routine is before a run.

My Morning Routine
Well, it obviously depends on the day, but on a week day, I typically get up between 6:00-6:20 a.m. to get in a short workout. Most days I have my workout clothes set out so I can pull them on, drink some water and go!

M/W/F is often some kind of strength circuit or HIIT workout in the garage (sometimes I sub in a run if I won't have time that eve) and T/TH are either rest, stretching or a yoga flow.

Around 7, I start the coffee maker, take the dog for a 10-15 min walk/jog around the neighborhood, feed her, water the plants and then shower and get ready. As I said before, I never have my work clothes laid out, which is always a pain. I think I secretly dread picking out my outfit so that's why I delay it.

As much as it pains me, I wait to eat breakfast until I'm dressed for work.

On the weekends, my routine is much different. Unless I have early run plans with a friend, I don't set an alarm, but naturally wake up by 7 at the latest. Then I'll spend an hour or so drinking tea, reading blogs, checking Instagram and just watching the sun rise {one of my favorite hours of the weekend}.

Crazy hair run the morning we left for Bend for our wedding last year!

Saturdays are yoga days and sometimes I want to run before that, so I'll run a few miles around the 'hood or head down to the studio early and run from there before changing. Sundays are often up in the air, but lately have been my long run day.

In a perfect world, I would wake up no later than 6 am on Saturday and have my long run done before yoga like I did during Chicago Marathon training.

And next, Peanut Butter Runner mentioned her five favorite foods.

Five Favorite Foods
Mine would be indulgences for sure...
  1. pizza 
  2. ice cream
  3. chips & salsa w/ a kick
  4. gourmet burger w/ caramelized onion, avocado & tomato
  5. sweet potato fries
Runners up: a big beefy cobb salad & warm chocolate chip cookies

The manfriend said his five favorite foods are: pizza, Yumm bowls, mac 'n cheese, PB&J and beer (I added this one for him, but I know he agrees even if it is a drink). Runner up: pad Thai

What does your morning routine look like? Anything that might be out of the ordinary for others? Tell me your five favorite foods. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Vacation already?

You know how you're often looking forward to a vacation thinking about how many weeks away it is and then all of a sudden... BAM! There it is. Well, that's how we're feeling about this vacation in T-minus 10 days. Granted, we are so excited and ready to be in Europe, but seriously, what happened to all those weeks I had to prepare at work and home?

Shockingly, I only reserved our London accommodations yesterday. Uh, yeah. That left us with few options and having to stay at two different spots, but that will just make everything more exciting, eh?

It was interesting to see that London is nearly double the cost of what most of our other hostels or hotels will be in other places. Oh well, it will be worth it when I'm sitting in a little pub grinning ear to ear.

Since we last spoke, I've decided that my weekend summer wardrobe requirements consist of a comfy Tar-get t-shirt (Merona vintage V-neck) and a pair of bright shorts (these are Gap).

What else happened since we last spoke? Well, some workouts for one. Last week I really got my bike on, which was fun for a change.

Week in workouts:

Monday - 26 mile bike ride w/ the manfriend. Highlights were the cows and a beast of a hill, but I was smiling nearly every second!

Tuesday - 11 mi roundtrip bike commute + power yoga

Wednesday - 3.25 a.m. miles + 23 mile bike ride w/ the manfriend

Thursday - 3 mi lunch run testing out the new Altras*

Friday - 3.5 mi neighborhood run + 20 min HIIT strength

Saturday - 10 miles on the Ridgeline Trail with Laurel. I forget how long runs always fly by with friends!

Sunday - 12 solo miles of road + hilly trail. Right hip was pretty cranky with me for the next 24 hrs. 

We also got to see the Oregon Coast (Newport, OR) on Saturday for a friend's wedding party. I made a point to put my feet in the sand even though we didn't have a ton of time to hang out.

There's just something about the feel of warm sand between your toes and the sound of waves rushing in and out. 

So much squinting

And finally, my favorite eats as of late (next to the fresh Ahi at the wedding party) have been these little appetizer plates I've made for dinner the past few nights; one night paired with a salad and another night a little egg scramble. 

Mmm... cheese. 

Do you have any rituals you do when you get to certain places? Do you plan things far ahead or are you more of a go with the flow kind of traveler? 

*Disclosure: I've been wanting to try out a pair of Altras for a while now. They offered me a discount on my purchase for a review in return. So keep your eyes peeled for a review in the near future!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sunshine & Summertime

I know it isn't technically summer yet, but here in Oregon things are feeling way too summery to not be calling it summer. Typically, we have rain into early July, but the rain seems to have stayed away for a week or two straight and 70+ degree days are the norm. I'll take it!

To keep it short and sweet, here are a handful of things that have really put me in the summer spirit!

Dressing like an Easter egg {and wearing flip flops}

Love me some pastels

This was after yoga, a few miles of running and then a little strength clinic put on by Team Run Eugene on Saturday. It was a perfect outfit for running errands and studying chemistry.

Meeting up with friends for hours of beer fest fun

It was so fun roaming the brew fest, do some quality people watching and try beers that struck our fancy. I tend to like the lighter, crisp stuff, ambers and malty porters, but am not a big IPA fan. 

Fresh meals on the back porch

This goodness gets wrapped in rice paper and dipped in plenty of peanut sauce

Salad wraps are always a fun meal for when you want to get creative, but not heat up your whole house. The tofu was all that needed a little cooking.

Cycling with the manfriend

*Fun fact: I actually bought this jersey for him in 2009 from a bike shop 
close to the Champs Elysees

Love saying hi to the cows... moo!

The two rides we've done together this year have really made me want to step up my cycling game. I'm not sure that it will happen, but I would love to become a stronger cyclist. If only it didn't take so much time! 

So there you have it, a few things that are making me extra happy these days. If there's one key ingredient to all of this, it is clearly the sunshine!

What is putting you in extra good spirits these days? What's your weather like right now? 

Oh, and I had my chemistry final yesterday, so it feels good to have that behind me and the summer open to enjoy. Now for some last minute Europe planning... Wish me luck!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Week in Workouts

Happy Friday! I hope you've got some exciting plans for the weekend. Today's post is a little bit of everything, including last week's workouts, so enjoy!

First, a little Fashion Friday

Scarf: Live Fashionable, sweater: LOFT, top: LOFT, skirt: JCrew, shoes: Franco Sarto

I added the scarf to this outfit just to bring some extra happiness to my day. There's something about wearing bright colors that is truly a mood booster.

Also, I'm in love with JCrew's mini skirts. I only have this one, but have considered ordering many other colors and fabrics of this same style (actually shorter on me than it appears) because it is so comfortable and fits my short body.

Last Week's Workouts

Monday (Memorial Day): Long trail run ~12 miles

Tuesday: a.m. shoulder strength, power yoga

Wednesday: 3.6 a.m. miles, 20 min shoulders and legs strength work

Thursday: Speed work AKA legs of lead, 6.3 miles. The workout included: 1 mile warm up, drills, 2 x 1 mile @10K pace (I went about 5K pace), 4 x 1000m at 5K and faster pace (I tanked), 1 mile cool down. Basically, I went out too fast running with friend Chris who is a bit faster than me. Got so excited that I was holding his pace that I did that for two miles, which left nothing in my legs for the 1,000s. Oh well, you live and learn. I ended up jogging the last 1,000m and making it a mile instead. 

Friday: Short 2.3 mile run + 10 min arms + core work. Board meeting at work so I knew I had to fit it what I could before an early morning and long day at the office. 

Saturday: More meetings, rest day. My legs and whole body were feeling sore and tired likely from Thursday's workout, so I just gave myself the day off from exercising. 

Sunday: 8.85 miles of bike path + 2 summits up Skinner's Butte, Lifeforce Fit {yoga, weight lifting, HIIT work}. The killer was when Jay made us finish class with a 3 min plank. Needless to say, I took a few breaks and the sweat was dripping off my forehead!

A note on strength: In the last few weeks since the Peterson Ridge Rumble, I've gone back to incorporating three strength workouts per week. Strength training is not only important to our bone health, but it's also an area that helps make me a stronger runner, while bringing out definition in my arms, core and legs.

Last week I went to Target and tried on a bunch of stuff. I ended up walking away with nada, but liked this top for work. The skirt however, was like an awful pair of sweat pants.

I went back the next day for a few of their basic tank tops and a t-shirt as they are so comfy (and cheap)! I'm due to replace some of my old summer wear, so Target always fits the bill.

There are still a few things I'd like to get for our Europe trip {i.e. a comfy pair of flats}, but I want to be intentional about buying items I'll wear after the trip and are also reasonably priced.

Tell me: What was your best workout of the week? Any favorite summer fashion purchases? 

Something to listen to
Have you guys checked out Jess Lively's podcast? I've followed her several years through her jewelry business and now life with intention. She started doing these podcasts a few months ago where she interviews really interesting and inspiring entrepreneurs and I've really enjoyed several of them.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Beer Mile

The manfriend requested an entire post devoted to his beer mile, so here goes. We've come out to spectate the local beer mile once before and had a blast. But this year, the manfriend decided to brave the track and run the mile after taking a seven month hiatus from running {ha ha, no biggie}!

Don't be convinced. This is a look of "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"

Because of course you need a "warm up beer" before downing four in about 10 minutes...

King of Beers

Master Todd explains the rules

Basic rules: 4 sets of drink a beer & run a lap, cannot run another lap until beer is finished, beer must be at least 5% ABV, if you barf, you run an extra lap. 

And they're off...

Trust me, this in no way sounds "fun" to me as I prefer to enjoy my beer AFTER a run, but it is pretty entertaining to watch. One of these guys (the shirtless one) even cranked out a 5:56 mile that includes his beer drinking time. Cra-craaazy!

Clocking in a fairly fast first 1/4 mile...

Starting to slow down...

Taking his time...

The manfriend finished in 12:30 or so, or in other words: room for improvement.

Let's just say, before he competes in the next beer mile he definitely needs to do a bit more running. His beer guzzling left much to be desired as well, but that's an area I'm not so interested in him improving upon. ;)

Highlights of Saturday's Beer Mile: Out of the 13 running, only one was female and she was dressed up as a bumble bee (because why not?), there were at least twice the number of spectators as runners, one guy drank out of beer bottles requiring him to carry his bottle opener, only one person puked, and the manfriend may or may not have come in last.

Have you ever spectated or participated in a beer mile?